Monday, March 16, 2009

Regulations Reach Thrift Stores

This article from New York talks of yet another Thrift Store dealing with CPSIA:

The store manager is now facing what many of the rest of us have been thinking for a month or more now: “When in doubt, throw it out."

I was bothered by the attitude and quotes from Scott Wolfson, the CPSC spokesperson that is quoted in the article:
Wolfson "explained by no means is the aim of the CPSC to impair the ability to do provide goods to consumers. 'Charities, thrift stores, We’re not looking to put them out of business,' he said...The 'multi-million dollar' fines are for 'manufacturers and retailers,' Wolfson added, 'Thrift stores, we want to help them make the good decisions.'"

Wait, let me get this straight. They don't want to put us out of business...But they want us to "make good decisions"...And considering the way the law is written AND the way the law is being interpreted, how exactly do they expect us to do that? Has he not read the CPCS's "Guidance on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) for Small Businesses, Resellers, Crafters and Charities" Here they state, right at the beginning of the document: "You can protect yourself by screening for violative products. But more importantly, as a business person, you do not want to be selling products that have the potential to cause harm to anyone, especially a child."

How exactly would we know what has the POTENTIAL to cause harm to a child? Especially since, they go on to answer the question: 'How can I determine if something has lead in it before I sell it?' by telling us we MUST:

* Test the product;
* Refuse to accept or sell the product, which will mean disposing of it if you already have it in your inventory;
* Use your best judgment based on your knowledge of the product;
* Contact the manufacturer about questionable products."

The only feasible option of those listed, for most resellers is to refuse to sell the product. And they even went on to tell us "which will mean disposing of it if you already have it in your inventory."....But we're supposed to believe they don't want to put us out of business...What am I missing here?


  1. Slowly, the word gets out; on March 14, this article appeared: Law Sets Tougher Standards for Norwalk Consignment Shops.

    Great opener: "Something has robbed consignment store shelves of children's toys, books and clothes, but it's not the grinch.

    The shopkeepers themselves are pulling the items and even contemplating closing their businesses as a result of a new law retroactively requiring tougher standards for the allowable amount of lead and toxic chemicals called phthalates in children's products."

    Of course, some of us may be thinking of Congress and/or the CPSC IS the Grinch!

    The middle of the article is much more of what we've seen in so many other articles...Not new news to us.

    But the end has some quotes I hadn't seen before: "Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the federal government had a responsibility to make the law 'workable' for retailers while preserving the 'spirit of the law,' which is to make children safe from harmful products.

    'So far, the federal government has failed to take the steps necessary for full and fair enforcement,' he said."

    Nobody has to tell US the Government hasn't taken those steps!

  2. Another article about CPSIA and Thrift Stores: "New Regulation on Children's Products Has Second-Hand Stores Worried About Liability"

    It's hard to think of this as a new law, after we've been fighting it for so long, and feeling the effects of it for over a month -- but I guess it's still new to some people.

    The article does a better job than many of explaining the problems of the law: "Stores can be held liable if they sell products that contain toxins as of last month, though the Consumer Product Safety Commission pushed back the testing requirement until February 2010.

    Second hand stores and charities that re-sell children's goods are exempt from having to test them, but can still be held civilly or even criminally liable for selling products with lead or pthalates, so the commission urges them not to sell anything that is likely to contain lead."

    Shauna Sloan, Founder of Kid to Kid, has a good quote about the law: "Lead in clothes and books and those things is not really a real danger to your child. It sounds frightening, but so does the boogy man. And I feel like this is a boogy man law that we are trying to make a law to protect our children from the boogy man when its really not a real danger to them."

    But once again, Congress refuses to take any action....When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?


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